American Council of Academic Plastic Surgeons

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Evaluation of a simulation-based mini-elective on medical student interest in plastic surgery
Eva Roy, BS; Erin E. Anstadt, MD; Joseph E. Losee, MD; Vu T. Nguyen, MD; Jesse A. Goldstein, MD
University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, Department of Plastic Surgery, Pittsburgh, PA, USA

Background: Integrated plastic surgery training programs are an increasingly popular path to train plastic surgeons. However, exposure to plastic surgery in pre-clinical years of medical school is currently very limited. It is vital to expose medical students early to the diverse field of plastic surgery to generate interest and prepare applicants for a career in plastic surgery
Methods: A plastic surgery mini-elective was developed for pre-clinical medical students consisting of five three-hour sessions, with each week focusing on different topics including craniofacial, cleft lip and palate, microsurgery, breast, hand, aesthetics, research, and education. Sessions consisted of a lecture(s) followed by a hands-on component including a suturing session, flap design, facial drawings, hand examination, or resident panel. Sessions were taught by plastic surgery faculty and residents. A pre-course and post-course survey was administered to identify interest in, awareness of, and barriers to the field of plastic surgery
Results: 25 students completed the pre-course survey, while 22 completed the post-course survey. Majority of participants were female and first year medical students. Awareness of the independent and integrated path increased from 80% and 72% respectively to 100% post-course (p <0.05). There was a 34% increase in plastic surgery as the top residency to which students would most likely apply (p <0.05). Following the course, 77% strongly agreed they felt more comfortable in seeking out a plastic surgery mentor, and 86% plan to get involved with research. Students self-rated ability to perform a laceration repair, knot tying, craniofacial exam, evaluate a hand x ray, assess wound reconstruction (p <0.05), identify breast reconstruction options (p <0.05), and initiate and complete a hypothesis driven research project improved. Post-course, 82% strongly agreed that the mini-elective increased knowledge of plastic surgery. 82% and 91% strongly agreed that residents and attendings respectively engaged with students improved mini elective experience. Conclusions: The plastic surgery mini-elective is a positive way to increase interest in and awareness of the field of plastic surgery for pre-clinical medical students. Early exposure is critical to developing longitudinal relationships with mentors and preparing for a career in plastic surgery.


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